BWW Reviews: SEINFELD New Man in Standup Tour
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld is famous for creating SEINFELD, a show about nothing. As a standup comedian, Seinfeld proved he can make just about anything funny. Performing before a packed Ohio Theatre crowd Feb. 27 in Columbus, Seinfeld proved his point during the opening 10-minute diatribe about what it probably took most of the audience to get tickets for the show.
"I've seen the guy a million times on TV for free, why would I want to pay to see him?" Seinfeld joked. "Are the other three (referring to 'Seinfeld' characters, Elaine, George and Kramer) going to be there?"
While Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander or Michael Richards didn't performed with Seinfeld, the 59-year-old comedian proved he can stand on his own without a hit television show behind him. Seinfeld is a new man. The Jerry mullet has been replaced a close cropped crew cut and the blue Oxford and 90s sweater vests have given way to a blue tie and a sharp suit jacket
On SEINFELD, which ran from 1989-98, one of the running gags was about Seinfeld's search for the perfect girlfriend. Seinfeld averaged about 3.8 girlfriends a season. In real life, Seinfeld married his wife Jessica 17 years ago and having three kids has given Seinfeld whole new minefields of material to explore.
Seinfeld talked about the violence associated with children's birthday parties with the main object of his wrath being piñatas.
"I told my son 'You beat that piñata senseless. And whatever falls out of his ruptured carcass, grab it and eat it right in front of his face,'" Seinfeld says. "And then afterward, we're going to stick pins into a picture of his brother."
Chuck Martin, a standup comedian and a writer for ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, started the evening strongly. Bounding onto the stage after the closing refrain of Sinatra's "New York, New York," the nebbish-looking comedian hit high marks for his observations on working out.
"Guys will come up to me in the gym and say 'I can bench 370. What can you do?'" Martin said. "'I don't know. Read maybe?'"
Martin also got one of the biggest laughs of the night when he talked about baseball fans' obsessive concern over steroid use. "I'm sitting there, watching a game with a beer the size of my head in my hands and going 'Gosh I hope the players aren't taking something that's going to hurt their bodies. Now where's that cotton candy guy? I'm starving.'"
Once he took the stage 20 minutes later, Seinfeld began lobbing grenades a wide variety of targets. He took pot shots at energy drinks ("Why do we need a five hour energy drink? Who is working from just 1-6 p.m.?"), the need for three different types of Gatorade, and coffee (a subtle way to plug his new web show COMEDIANS IN CARS GETTING COFFEE).
On alcohol-fueled coffee drinks he quipped: "How rare is it that set of circumstances present itself when you need to be the opposite of tired and sober? Tonight I'm gonna get smashed and focused. 'Oh yes officer I AM aware of how fast I was driving. I saw the whole thing. Go ahead, bring me in. In fact, I'll start doing all the paper work right now."
One of the things I appreciate about Seinfeld's standout standup is a reviewer can actually write about most of the things he talked about. The last comedian I reviewed, I couldn't print about 75 percent of his material without violating some morality clause.
During his post show question-and-answer period with the audience, Seinfeld listed Bill Cosby as one of his favorite comedians. Cosby's influence goes far beyond Seinfeld's choices of sweaters in the 1990s. Like Cosby, Seinfeld can do bits about sex without being vulgar. His takes on Cialis ads ("Here's the problem. This guy is so busy hauling around two cast iron bath tubs he's too tired for anything else") and watching Viagra commercials with his kids in the room ("No, he said erector sets lasting four hours") got the point across without requiring an NC-17 rating.
Still Seinfeld wondered aloud if standup, in this age of internet and cell phones, was a dying art form.
"My job is to slightly distract you while you're sitting in a different chair," he says. He added later people have lost the ability to communicate without their cell phones. "We rarely use (cell phones) to talk. Talking is obsolete. I feel like a blacksmith up here. If you want, I can text you this whole (routine) instead."